DENVER — Brenton Doyle is quickly gaining a reputation as the best young defensive outfielder in the majors. But the Rockies’ rookie center fielder wants to be so much more.
So it was quite understandable that Doyle pumped his fist after sliding into third base with a bases-loaded triple in the fifth inning. Doyle’s three-run missile off the right-field wall was the key hit in Colorado’s white-knuckle, 8-7 victory over the Blue Jays Saturday night at Coors Field.
Doyle entered the night with a .196 batting average and a strikeout rate of 36.7%. In fact, Toronto lefty Yusei Kikuchi fanned Doyle twice in his first two at-bats. But Doyle ambushed reliever Yimi Garcia’s first-pitch fastball and turned on the jets. Doyle scored on Charlie Blackmon’s single to right.
Blackmon had quite a night himself, hitting 3 for 4 (including a double in the eighth) and driving in three runs. Also, in the fifth, the 37-year-old Blackmon swiped second base for his first stolen base of the season. Oh yeah, it was also Charlie Blackmon bobblehead night, part of the reason a raucous crowd of 40,445 showed up.
Colorado’s bullpen, which has been so shaky lately, nearly collapsed again Saturday night.
Gavin Hollowell and Matt Koch each pitched a scoreless inning. But closer Justin Lawrence had a nerve-racking time. He walked George Springer to open the ninth and Davis Schneider ripped a triple off Lawrence to score Springer, cutting the lead to 8-6.
Lawrence retired Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Whit Merrifield, but then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Schneider to score from third. The lead was down to 8-7. And then Lawrence walked Alejandro Kirk and Cavan Biggio and plunked Daulton Varsho to load the bases.
Right-hander Tyler Kinley came in to try to save the day. He did, striking out pinch-hitter Spencer Horwitz to end the game.
The Rockies, who snapped a four-game losing streak and won for just the second time in their last 12 games, could have folded early. They didn’t, largely because of a gritty performance from starter Ty Blach.
The lefty could have easily come down with a severe case of Rocky Mountain Fever, an infliction that strikes a lot of pitchers at Coors Field. After all, the lefty gave up four runs on six hits in the first inning.
But here’s the thing: The Blue Jays rapped out five consecutive two-out singles but the first four were classic Coors bloopers. Merrifield’s hit came off the bat at 75.2 mph, followed by Kirk (66.9), Ernie Clement (50.7) and Varsho (61.4 mph).
After that inning, Blach gave up just one more run — a leadoff homer by Kevin Kiermaier in the second — and stuck around for six innings.